For the past 30 years, offset printing was the bread and butter for Valley Graphics. The business was started in Kamiah by Larry and Karen Schlieper. They opened the business in Orofino in 1983. Bill Bosse has pretty much worked for them the entire time. That’s how he came into the industry.
It’s just been in the last eight to 10 years, that the business began to feel the competition of digital photography. It has revolutionized the business of printing, as it has in many fields of work. In the past two to three years, there has been a dramatic decrease in the demand for offset printing.
“It wasn’t that long ago that when someone walked in the door for a business card, it would traditionally take around six hours from start to finish. With the new setup, I can do the entire job in roughly 30 minutes. I don’t even have to leave my chair…”
“Currently the only thing I use the press for is printing envelopes. This is most likely happening with every little print shop in America.” Bill observed.
“Over the years, I’ve worked with Lewiston Printing owned by Helen Snyder. Fifteen years ago, they bought themselves a $50,000 printing press. It’s the envy of mine – a beautiful press.” said Bosse.
In the last five or six years Lewiston Printing had to let go of their press operator because they were not earning enough money to justify having him. So last year the Snyder’s asked Bill Bosse if he’d be interested in buying their press. “I just kinda laughed and told Helen that there was just no way that I could afford it. She said, “I’ll take $2,500 for it.” I told her at that price she was giving it away. Mrs. Snyder told him that she had put the press on the market but hadn’t received any offers for it.
Yet, Bill still wasn’t sure. He asked if he could take a week to think and pray about it.
After giving the matter a lot of thought he went back to Helen and told her that he would really like the press but he still didn’t have the $2,500. She told him it was okay, that they would worry about that later, just to please get it out of there.
“Larry Schlieper and I went and picked up the press. It sat idle here for about six months, before I realized that I don’t need it or have any use for it. So I’m beginning to kick myself for having taken on the burden of the press. I still hadn’t given Helen a dime for it yet.
“One weekend I took my granddaughter to a Christian youth conference in Montana. While we were at the conference I was seated across the table from a woman and we began talking, which for me is very unusual, I am normally very quiet and shy. She asked me what I did and I told her I owned a print shop.” said Bill.
The woman told him that her husband and she were responsible for setting up a print shop in Africa and were looking for a press. That’s when the lights went on in his head and he told her “Well, I think I may be able to help you with that.”
Next, the woman called her husband and he confirmed that it sounded perfect and that it would be an answer to the prayers of those in Africa. The couple then came to Orofino to look at the press. They were in complete disbelief of their good fortune of finding such an incredible piece of machinery! The press is in immaculate condition and has had only one operator. It was purchased new.
Bill stated that he knew that before going any further, he really needed to connect with the owner, Helen Snyder, and let her know what was going on.
While she and her husband were reading the letter Bill had received from the people in Tanzania, the next question came to mind. “Helen, he asked, “would you consider donating the press to the mission?” She answered with another question, “Do they need a plate maker too?” (A plate maker runs anywhere from five to six thousand dollars.) “What if we donate the print maker and the press?” she asked. The Snyders were willing to do that.
Again, Bill was in contact with the coordinator, who was elated beyond words. A week went by and Bill was lying in bed trying to fall asleep. when he asked himself “Am I missing something? Am I not seeing an opportunity here?”
Bill said he felt like he wasn’t accomplishing anything and not making any money. “These people in Africa are going to need more than a printmaker and a press.” he thought.
Bill went back to the coordinator “The Lord has laid it upon my heart to donate all of my equipment and my services.” he offered. As one can imagine, the deal was already over the top for the Christian compound. They answered immediately that they were only too happy to have him.
So that was the catalyst in the closing of Valley Graphics. “I feel good that there were so many indicators of divine intervention at work. That’s just the way it works with God. If you give your control to God, things miraculously fall into place.
“There are still obstacles that I have to overcome before leaving. My closing date is Aug. 30 and people are starting to come in with last minute orders. I feel bad about that. It’s been a struggle. I've got to give credit where credit is due, it’s been by God’s Grace that we’ve been able to make it this long, as we have barely been able to make it from month to month.
Originally from Connecticut, Bill moved out west about 38 years ago. He’s never been overseas but he thinks he’ll adapt to his new life fairly well. He did say that one of the biggest challenges of the compound is the lack of electricity. Generators are used to run everything.
The mission compound encompasses 4,000 acres in central Tanzania. The compound has a large agricultural program, (they boast of harvesting the largest and finest avocados anywhere) there is also an education program and a medical facility. The mission’s goal is to meet the needs of the local people, provide them with a quality education and some kind of work experience.
The press will be used to help spread the gospel. “One of my functions will be to teach them how to operate the press and I’m looking forward to that.” added Bill. Once a person becomes familiar with the equipment, it takes years to fine tune. They’ll learn to troubleshoot with time and experience. They’ll learn to use their ears as well as their eyes to know when something is not right.
The departure date is not firmly established just yet. Bill knows that it will be as soon as Valley Graphics closes and he has completed his work here, he will focus on getting everything packed for the trip.
One of the most difficult tasks ahead will be transporting the approximately 3 foot wide and 8-10 feet long, 5 foot high printing press which weighs every bit as heavy as it looks. The press will be transported to either Portland or Seattle and crated before it is shipped by barge to Africa. Upon making it to Africa it still needs to be transported from the coast, a substantial distance (400 miles) over primitive roads to Tanzania. It will require a month or more for the press to get there.
The language spoken in Tanzania is Swahili, but Bill doesn’t think there will be much problem with communication. English is taught as a second language in the school on the compound and there will be many on hand proficient in both languages to help translate.
It appears that the most difficult part of all this is that Bill will greatly miss his family and especially the grandchildren with whom he is especially close. It is still to be determined how long Bill might be there. “I won’t be there to make money, it is understood that I will receive roughly $150 per month.” He believes that it will require a relatively short time to teach someone how to run the press, about six months.
“For all I have done here, I’ve never considered myself a business person; I could write a book about everything not to do. Money has never been a motivator or a priority. I figure if I wouldn’t pay this or that amount to have something done, why would anyone else?” he asked.
“But service is a priority. To help someone else – that’s what gives me satisfaction. I’ve heard that it is very easy to fall in love with the people there, they are known to be very open, honest and giving.”
“There’s plenty of stress in getting everything done,” Bill admitted, “but I’ve disciplined myself to just focus on what’s in front of me today. I’m not going to worry about tomorrow.”
On behalf of Orofino, The Clearwater Tribune thanks Valley Graphics for many years of fine service and wishes Bill a safe and successful journey.